We present an integrated optofluidic sensor system for in-line characterization of micro-droplets. The device provides information about the droplet generation frequency, the droplet volume, and the content of the droplet. Due to its simplicity this principle can easily be implemented with other microfluidic components on one and the same device. The sensor is based on total internal reflection phenomena. Droplets are pushed through a microfluidic channel which is hit by slightly diverging monochromatic light. At the solid-liquid interface parts of the rays experience total internal reflection while another part is transmitted. The ratio of reflected to transmitted light depends on the refractive index of the solution. Both signals are recorded simultaneously and provide a very stable output signal for the droplet characterization. With the proposed system passing droplets were counted up to 320 droplets per second and droplets with different volumes could be discriminated. In a final experiment droplets with different amounts of dissolved CaCl2 were distinguished based on their reflected and transmitted light pattern. This principle can be applied for the detection of any molecules in microdroplets which significantly influence the refractive index of the buffer solution.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.